It is important to first seperate the 2 terms. Not all IP cameras are megapixel, but with few exceptions, all Megapixel cameras will be IP.
Basically IP means “Internet Protocol”. This is a term borrowed from the computer world since IP cameras are basically cameras with an on-board computer. As such they will run on Cat5 or network cable, will require network infrastructure such as switches and routers, and require a special knowledge from the installer beyond simply installing the camera and pointing and focussing.
The term Megapixel refers to the quality of the picture. Standard Analog cameras are on the high end half a Megapixel, or roughly 640 X 480 Pixels. A 1.3 megapixel camera is 1280 X 1024, which is slightly better than a 720P television.
At the time of this writing, we are starting to install 3 Megapixel cameras, which are better than 1080P televisions. Another way to think of it is to think of your Digital Camera. The more Megapixels you have the more you can zoom in after the fact on your computer. Obviously this is a big advantage in the security world, when we are often trying to zoom in on a license plate or a bad guy.
Ultimately the decision on what cameras to use will be dictated by your specific application, as well as the budget you have to work with. The DVR’s that we use are known as “hybrid systems”, meaning we can have analog and IP cameras on the same DVR. This allows us to use lower cost analog cameras indoors or where there is a relatively short field of view, and high quality IP cameras where there is a longer field of view.
As you see there are many variables. That is why it is important to have the guidance of a security expert who can help you select the right products for your specific needs and budget.